Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to shop. Their snacks are cheap, they have great all-natural options, and a lot of their food is gluten-free. Another huge perk is their alcohol selection. From brews to barrels, there are options for every budget and every taste bud. In college, I drank a lot of Two Buck Chucks (aka Charles Shaw) and occasionally would splurge on a $3.99 option. Now that I have a better hold on life, I buy wines ranging anywhere from $3-$12, but I still buy them from Trader Joe’s. Not only do they switch it up monthly, but there are some great options from around the world and it still fits in my budget. I thought I would go ahead and share with you the wines on my wine rack for February and why I recommend any (or all) of the four.**
First up, Sara Bee Moscato. This sweet white wine is a product of Italy and has been on my top list for a couple of years now. It is a regular at TJ’s, and it is perfect for a sunny day. This golden hewed wine is sweet with notes of pear and lychee, as well as floral with aromas of elderflower. There is a slight honey-citrus zing as an after note. This is a richer Moscato, but does not have a fake, sugary sweetness. Instead the sweetness comes from the fruity flavors embedded in the wine. I personally like Italian wines because the naturally sweet flavors are a constant theme. I like Moscatos, but they are not my favorite because of how overwhelming the flavors can be. However, I find this wine to be refreshing and a nice way to end a warm, sunny day. Costing only $5.99 for one bottle, the price is even sweeter than the wine.
Next, Kidia Sauvignon Blanc. This wine pours at a nice yellow-green color and smells clean, but intense. With hints of white currant, green apple, fresh herbs, and lime, this wine is fruity, elegant, and bold. It is a stronger wine with an alcohol level of 13.0%, but not overly powering. I will say I am a little bias as Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite type of wine and Chilean wine is my absolute favorite. I find wine from Chile to be refreshing, clean, and a bit on the citrus flavored side (which I am found of in white wine.) Kidia has the flavors I crave constantly, and is strong enough to enjoy a single glass to relax with dinner. I like wines that I can pair with creamy cheeses and a nice salad, and Kidia goes great with an arugula salad topped with goat cheese and dried cranberries (hmm maybe a recipe?) This wine is one of the most I have read that this wine can be sold for up to $15 a bottle, but at TJ’s I found it for just $5.99.
Blue Fin Riesling. Another classic from my college days. Riesling is similar to Moscato in the sense it is easier for me to drink, but can get to the point where it is way too sweet. Thankfully, this wine is medium in body and acidity, creating a nice balance with flavors of lemons, pears, tropical fruits, citrus, and a hint of mint. Although this wine smells very sweet when the cork comes out, it has a slight tartness that makes this Riesling lighter. It has a crisp aftertaste, and unlike most sweet wines, it didn’t leave my mouth with the taste of alcohol. I once used Blue Fin as a base for Sangria. I made mine peach based with some citrus flavors, and it turned out really nice. I served this with a spicy chicken dish and salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. I highly recommend this combination as it pairs very nicely and enhances the Riesling’s flavors. Although you could pay closer to $10 for better Riesling, Blue Fin is $4.49 at TJ’s and great for a cheap wine!
Finally, Mbali Chenin Blanc Viognier. I have very little experience with Chenin Blanc or Viognier (I’m not even sure I can pronounce those correctly..sorry dad), but what I do have experience with is South African wine. The interesting part about this wine is that South Africa produces Chenin Blanc in a dry style, and Viognier is a very full-bodied wine similar to Chardonnay. Mbali’s blend is 79% Chenin Blanc and 21% Viognier. Surprisingly, Mbali is a bright and light wine that is very easy to drink despite the slight buttery notes. Flavors of melon, peach, pear, apple, and kiwi add enough sweetness and body without too much acidity within the after taste. What I like the most about this wine is how different it is from a basic Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio that I would order when I wanted a fuller wine. I would compare this to Sauvignon Blanc but with notes of honey and possibly vanilla. I like that it has a mix of rich flavors but isn’t too complex or heavy. I would pair Mbali with lighter dishes and fresh herbs. Plus, it was only $4.99, so I think it’s a great way to introduce yourself to new types of wines and blends!
**Disclaimer: I am NOT a wine expert. My father is, but I do not have the extensive knowledge or refined palate like he does. I am a vino, and a college graduate, so I like to find cheap wines that won’t taste like fermented sadness. Feel free to disagree with my tastes, but remember all taste buds are different and deserve to be respected!